26 May 2009

Fiat CEO in Berlin to secure Opel takeover

Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne has held talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Economy Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg in an eleventh-hour attempt to win support for Fiat's bid to take over General Motors' Opel unit.

Mr Marchionne,  who is widely credited with FIAT Auto's dramatic comeback over the last five years, feels Fiat and Opel would be a well-fitted match and with signs that Berlin and General Motors (GM) are leaning towards a Russian-backed bid from Canada's Magna, the Italians wanted to put forward a strong case before the final decision is announced later this week. The Fiat CEO wants to combine GM's European and Latin American operations with Chrysler, in which it has secured a 20 percent stake, to create the world's second largest auto manufacturer. 

Meanwhile in Italy, FIAT labor unions are resistant to the takeover, fearing job losses. There is likewise unrest amongst Opel workers and German regional councils. Mr Marchionne has said there would be no plant closures were Fiat to be the successful bidder.

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